18 August 2015 

New research shows a huge financial burden on the NHS could be reduced and children's dental health greatly improved if advised levels of fluoride are added drinking water.

The research published in the journal of Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology has shown that fluoridated water could help to solve the UK's children tooth extraction crisis, while having no negative effects on their health1.

The new research looked at areas which have fluoridation schemes in place and found that people living in these areas had 55 per cent fewer admissions for tooth extractions than those which didn't. It also highlighted that children in these areas did not have any adverse health effects as a result of fluoridation.

With recent research finding that tooth decay is by far the biggest reason2 why primary school children are admitted to hospital, with 500 five to nine year olds being hospitalised as a result of it every week. These findings could have major consequences for NHS which spends £30 million a year on hospital based tooth extractions for children.

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, explained why he believes fluoridation schemes are vital in fighting the UK's tooth extraction crisis.

"It is deeply disturbing to see such a huge amount of children having to be admitted to hospital on a daily basis due to tooth decay, especially when countless studies over many decades have shown that water fluoridation has been proven to reduce decay considerably.

"This new research reinforces what we have known for a long time regarding the benefits that fluoride can have on children's teeth, while also emphasising the fact that fluoridation has no negative impact on general health.

"By introducing fluoride into our drinking water we can help to prevent tooth decay, one of the most common chronic diseases in both children and adults in the UK. Currently only around 12 per cent of the UK population live in areas which have fluoridated water and the NHS has to pick up the burden when it comes to the consequences to our teeth I can speak from personal experience having practiced for many years on the borders of fluoridated Birmingham and the then non-fluoridated Sandwell. The difference in child oral health either side of the dividing road was immense."

Fluoride can greatly help dental health by strengthening tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay while also reducing the amount of acid that the bacteria on your teeth produce.

Currently six million people in the UK live in areas where the level of fluoride in water is artificially adjusted to the recommended one part per million, with an additional one million living in areas with natural levels of fluoridated water. This helps to reduce the significant public health burden of dental decay in these areas.

"Countless reports have been published throughout the world about fluoride. After many years, the scientific conclusion is that fluoride toothpaste and correctly fluoridated water are of great benefit to dental health, help to reduce decay and cause no harmful side effects to general health," commented Ben Atkins, Clinical Director of Revive Dental Care and trustee of the British Dental Health Foundation.

"Practising as I do in the North West of England, an area with some of the highest levels of decay in England, the reduction in suffering that would be caused by water fluoridation is immense.

"We have to face facts, we are facing a crisis when it comes to our kid's teeth and decisive action needs to be taken sooner rather than later as a struggling NHS cannot shoulder this burden forever, fluoridation schemes offer an easy and harmless way of improving our children's dental health."


1. Young N. et al (2105) ‘Community water fluoridation and health outcomes in England: a cross-sectional study', Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, 2015]

2. Children's Dental Health Survey